Cricket’s troubled week took another hit on Thursday night when former England batsman Alex Hales admitted to painting his face black for a New Year’s Eve party in 2009.
Hales, who denied this week that he named his black dog Kevin after a racial slur allegedly used yorkshire By Gary Balance, he was forced to explain why he attended the party with a black face.
Hales told the Sun: “In 2009, I attended a New Year’s Eve musical tribute fancy dress party. I prepared it as a tribute to my musical hero, Tupac Shakur, whom I have admired since childhood and, at the time, this offensive Nature was not realized. I echo my statement from the week before and emphasize how strongly I condemn all forms of racism and discrimination.”
This was the latest development from the day when the Yorkshire whistleblower azeem rafiq More than a decade ago a fellow cricketer had to apologize to himself for sending out anti-Semitic messages, while the government warned of further action if the game was not streamlined.
The sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, threatened lawmakers on Tuesday after finding Rafiq’s testimony “annoying” and “dangerous”. Speaking to the same digital, culture, media and sports selection committee as Rafiq did earlier in the week, he revealed that he had met England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison, and was “assured was that he would do whatever “it takes to correct the mistakes”.
But Huddleston also put the sport on notice, saying the government was ready to step in if it didn’t start making demonstrable changes within weeks and months. “Secretary of State, Nadine Dorries, has been very clear to me that we as a government will intervene in whatever way is necessary if adequate action is being taken,” Huddleston said, from suggesting a “nuclear option”. The first would be to set up an independent regulator and look after the financial flow of public money.
Huddleston reminds cricket fan led reviews in soccer, which is expected to recommend an independent regulator when it reports this month, came down with the game’s failure to bring its act together. “With cricket, I would say the clock is ticking on it, we can go down that path as well.”
However, he added that the government needs to be very careful about cutting investment as much of Sport England has backed schemes that promote diversity for cricket. “We all want cricket to organize its home and do its work together and solve this problem,” he said.
Huddleston also agreed with MPs that Yorkshire’s treatment of Rafiq showed he was institutionally racist. “I think it’s because of the extent to which racist language was normalized and seen as acceptable and some people didn’t realize or recognize what they were doing and saying. Was racist, and I think that’s probably the definition of institutional racism,” she said.
But, as Huddleston made clear, it wasn’t just Yorkshire where there was a problem. As of 2014, academic Thomas Fletcher had conducted two reports, the first for ECB And then a year later to Yorkshire, which had studied how British Asians were being treated in sport. Still both were sitting.
“It appears that the pace at which Yorkshire have responded to Azeem Rafiq’s concerns has been exceptionally slow, and therefore raises questions about how seriously the game takes the issues raised,” Huddleston said. “The Fletcher Report was 2014. Azeem Rafiq’s case formally began in 2017. So we have looked at the fact that it has clearly been put in the tall grass over the years. It is not fair. So I think that We need some time for ECB and Lord Patel [Yorkshire’s new chairman], which is doing its review, to think about what action can be taken, but I think we are all impatient here, myself included.”
Meanwhile, Harrison likely to come under pressure From some quarters when all 18 first tier counties, national counties and 41 ECB members including the MCC meet on Friday afternoon. Huddleston, however, suggested that the game’s governing body should be given time when asked whether he believed its officials had the talent and skills needed to transform cricket.
“I would like to believe they do,” Huddleston said.
“And of course we are hearing positive noise. Tom has given his absolute sincere commitment that he understands the issues and that he wants to fix them.”
He said: “I am not saying that I have complete confidence at this point of time. I have heard positive voices, but we will judge them by their actions and their actions. The ECB has a lot of important and enough resources. Cricket is one of the poorest sports. is not one.”
As the fallout from Rafiq’s testimony continues, Somerset has officially reprimanded Jack Brooks for his past use of racist language. The seamer was investigated for offensive tweets in 2012, the year he left Northamptonshire for Yorkshire, as well as using the name Steve for his former White Rose teammate Cheteshwar Pujara.
Brooks’ habit of refusing to use Pujara’s given name against the wishes of the India batsman was discussed in the selection committee by Rafiq. A statement from Somerset said: “The club has decided to reprimand Jack, remind him of his responsibilities and require him to attend extensive training on equality, diversity and inclusivity.
“The club has spoken at length with Jack about the nature and content of his comments. There is no doubt that these comments are unacceptable. Jack … is embarrassed and devastated that his comments offended people and he accepted that, while he was less mature than he was about a decade ago, the content of the post was incorrect. Jack has acted honestly and openly throughout the investigation and has tenderly apologized for his past errors. “